This post is a special one for me as it’s a subject I’ve had lengthy discussions on with many of my close artist friends.
In the Beats by Vanity TV Discord chat (a community chat for music producers) one of the members asked the following question which inspired me to write this post:
“Hey, guys. This question may sound ridiculous, but I figured I may as well see if any of you have ever felt the same. I can’t seem to settle on an overall sound. My goal is to become an artist ultimately, but my problem is that I can’t seem to settle into a genre. I’m a big music lover, and my taste for music stretches wide. For this reason, I can’t seem to decide on a sound to settle on, or a groove to settle into. This year specifically I’m trying to shoot for finally releasing an EP, but I need to decide on a direction before that can happen. Have any of you guys had been in the same place? If so what did you do?”
Firstly, it’s not a ridiculous question. It’s an astute observation for one to have over their work. This conversation is a very familiar topic for many, if not all artists who are connected to their work.
Before I get started, I think it’s first important to understand that a few years ago I had a very different opinion, the polar opposite in fact. This was at the time while writing and releasing music as an artist, putting out EP’s and albums and chasing the elusive ‘finding your own sound’ concept. Because I was right in the middle of it, I couldn’t see from the outside in; I was merely stuck in a rut, looking around for answers I was never going to find. My viewpoint shifted when I started exploring creativity and finding my voice as an artist, not my sound.
To answer the question directly, why do you feel the need to settle on one sound? I don’t believe any artist should ever decide on a single sound (or genre), that’s like a painter limiting himself to only one colour, what would be the point when there are so many options available? This idea would, in turn, limit your work to all sounding the same, or at least, very similar. Great artists in every field continuously reinvent themselves. I challenge you reading this to find me an example of an exceptional musician whose first album sounded like their last. If your outlook on life was the same at 23 as it was at 50, then you’ve just wasted 27 years. If your art is a reflection of yourself, then wouldn’t it make sense for it to grow with you?
I think it’s also important not to plan your albums or projects at this stage. Wake up each day and see what happens, take it one day at a time.
For anyone who disagrees’s with this post, I’d ask, would you honestly be happy limiting yourself to only writing music in the confines of one given music genre for the rest of your life?
Let your art grow organically, don’t rush something you want to last forever.